North Korea's supreme leader, Kim Jong Il, is suffering from cancer of the pancreas and is in danger of dying of the disease, South Korean television reported this morning.
Yonhap Television News attributed the latest health bulletin on the North Korean leader to unidentified Chinese and South Korean intelligence sources, and said it is consistent with a report in a Japanese newspaper over the weekend that Kim has a "serious pancreatic disorder".
Last week, it was reported that Kim appeared haggard, emaciated and slow on his feet.
Kim disappeared from public view for three months last year after what intelligence agencies assume was a stroke last August. Since then, judging from television footage of him, his health has declined.
His youngest son Kim Jong Un was named as Kim Jong Il's successor, but China is said to have grave reservations about this.
There are no obvious signs are that Kim Jong Il is in anything less than complete control, but close examination of recent internal developments leads many Pyongyang-watchers to the conclusion that he is leaning towards military hardliners, and away from the more reform-oriented advisers whom he favoured in the middle of the present decade.